It is just after dusk. There is a warm breeze. It is beginning to smell like spring--mud, melting snow, fabric softener. Yes, fabric softener. Except for the pain in my knee, the little aches in my spine, I could be 20 and striding across campus, the distint smell of fabric softener emanating from the dorm laundry rooms. I could be on my way to a party, where friend will call out to me when I open the door, offer me a beer and the music will be so loud we can't hear ourselves jabbering about the guy across the room. Or I could be on my way to the basement of the student center, ready to put in an all-nighter at the student paper, where a guy named Web (yes, really) wears a tweed jacket and talks about "putting this baby to sleep" (yes, really). Or I could be on my way to a poetry reading, probably my poetry reading where I will stand at the microphone, lights in my eyes and I will read each line slowly and deliberately. Or it could be 2 a.m. and I am on my way home, slinking across campus after spending the evening under the sheets with a boy, hoping not to run into certain people who might not approve.
As I make a turn to go up the abandoned bus route, the wind is in my face. Someone is cooking and I remember standing at the corner where two buildings meet, one the cafeteria and one a boys' dorm and watching others play ball against the roof--white ball, the game named after the dorm. I sit on the wall opposite and dangle my feet and applaud. I probably should be reading Middlemarch, but what's the worst that could happen?
I want to spread my arms and let the wind take me back there. But the aches and creaks and twinges keep me here, remind me of where I've been, and where I've yet to go.